Online sextortion

It’s not just for kids any more

By Mark Luedtke

We’ve all heard the horror stories about kids sexting each other. Dr. Jill Murray told ABC News, “I have two girls who have made suicide attempts and several had to switch schools because of sexting… I don’t know any 16-year-old boy who’s going to keep a naked picture of a girl to himself.”

According to one study, 10 percent of kids said they had sent a sext message in the past year and 5 percent had received one. ABC continues, “Those involved in sexting were not only more likely to report a suicide attempt, they also had twice the odds of reporting depressive symptoms as students who weren’t involved in sexting.”

USA Today calls sextortion against children an epidemic. “It’s called ‘Sextortion,’ a crime exclusive to the digital age. Predators pretend to be teens on social media and gaming sites,” it writes. “They befriend young people, gain their trust, and entice them to send lewd photos of themselves. Then they use the photos to extort more and more illicit images.”

The number of reported cases of sextortion against children rose from 5,300 in 2010 to 7,000 in 2013, but even though the number of cases is few, this is big news.

But sextortion has grown up. AskMen reports, “It goes a bit like this. You log on to a dating site or cam site and start chatting with an attractive young woman who takes off her clothes and invites you to do the same. Maybe you’re wary and maybe you refuse. But after several more webcam meet-ups, you feel like you have a connection with her and—what the hell—you go with it. Then she turns round and says she’s recorded images of you and will plaster them all over social media unless you send her money, and lots of it.”

The United Kingdom government reports four men have committed suicide because of online sextortion. Sextortion schemes are often controlled by organized crime syndicates, but you don’t hear about them because 95 percent of victims are male. Few in the leftist media care when men are victimized.

The New York Times offers more details. “Scammers typically create fake profiles on dating sites and apps like, OkCupid, eHarmony, Grindr, and Tinder using pictures of attractive men and women—often real people whose identities they’ve filched off Facebook, Instagram, or other social media sites,” it reports. “This lures victims who swipe or click to begin corresponding.”

The politically correct Times makes it seem like women are victimized as often as men, but that’s not true.

Scammers bilked victims out of over $200 million last year alone. The promise of the Internet is it enables everyone in the world to connect to everyone else. The downside of that is predators can do the same. That’s why this scam is growing by leaps and bounds.

Wayne May from told the Times they receive about 30 requests for help a day. Typical losses fall in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, but some victims have been scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The most obvious way to avoid this scam is not to post nude pictures of yourself online. Even if your partner isn’t a scammer, your nude pics will live forever on the Internet. Creepy NSA and CIA hackers will collect them and share them around the office. Non-governmental hackers may collect them and post them publicly. There is no privacy on the Internet.

But saying that is futile. Like children, adults respond to their biological urges, and the scammers are masters at developing emotional connections. That’s why criminal organizations choose them.

AskMen offers advice for anyone caught in a sextortion scam.

“Don’t pay. Victims who do usually receive demands for more money and higher amounts.

“Stop all communications with the blackmailer. Suspend (but don’t delete) your social media accounts and take screenshots of every message you have. Resist the urge to delete everything.

“Take notes. However embarrassing, note down everything you can remember from your exchanges, collect as much evidence as possible, and go to the police—they will take you seriously.”

The Internet is a tool, and like all tools, it can be used for good or evil. Take care.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at

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